Illinois Passed A Law To Clean Up Coal Ash 5 Years Ago. What’s Taking So Long?

"In one Chicago suburb, people have been waiting for relief for years."

"Celeste Flores can tell you the good news about living in Waukegan, Illinois: The air is safer to breathe now.

“Thankfully, we are no longer breathing coal being burned,” said Flores, a co-chair of Clean Power Lake County, or CPLC, an environmental justice organization serving the mostly Latino suburb about 40 miles north of Chicago. The explanation behind that is simple: The Waukegan Generating Station near the shore of Lake Michigan closed in 2022 after decades of pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and coal ash into the ground.

Flores can also tell you the bad news: The toxic coal ash is still there, dangerously close to the groundwater.

But the explanation behind why the pollution remains in the ground is more complicated than shutting a plant down."

This coverage is made possible through a partnership between WBEZ and Grist, a nonprofit environmental media organization.

Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco reports for Grist May 3, 2024.

Source: Grist, 05/10/2024